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Restored, redeemed... and rescuing a community

After encountering Christ, a pastor from Nicaragua went from a life of drugs to leading his community out of disaster.

Rachael Adams | 26 Aug 2022

Pastor Freddy stands outside his church. The church building is now being used to support the local community and has been a place of refuge for many when hurricanes Iota and Eta hit. | Image credit:  PRODAD/Tearfund

Pastor Freddy leads Lluvias de Gracia church, in north-west Nicaragua. It’s a thriving church that has thrown open its doors to serve its local community through recent disasters, such as hurricanes Iota and Eta. But it wasn’t always this way – for Pastor Freddy or the church he now leads.

‘At the age of 12 I strayed from God's way and fell into the world of drugs and alcohol,’ says Pastor Freddy.

‘I lived my adolescence and youth lost on the street.’

For almost ten years, Pastor Freddy struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. But then something amazing happened.

‘I accepted Christ and was loved and restored by God,’ Pastor Freddy shares. ‘I embraced the gospel at the age of 29.’

Responding to God’s call

Soon after this, Pastor Freddy felt God call him to pastoral ministry. For several years, he faithfully served in a local church.

‘In that place the pastoral work consisted of giving priority to the attention to the purely spiritual needs of prayer, fasting and the preaching of the word,’ recounts Pastor Freddy.

‘God also gave me a family, made up of my wife and two daughters.’

It was after this that Pastor Freddy was recommended to join as a pastor at a new church – and where he encountered Tearfund’s local partner and the teaching that transformed how he would go on to serve his community for years to come.

Pastor Freddy stands outside his church. The church building is now being used to support the local community and has been a place of refuge for many when hurricanes Iota and Eta hit. | Image credit:  PRODAD/Tearfund

How the church can make a difference

Pastor Freddy was at a leader’s meeting at his new church leader’s home. His church leader had invited staff from Tearfund’s local partner, Programa de alimentación y desarrollo (PRODAD), to the meeting. Together, they spoke about how the local church can make a difference in the community and Pastor Freddy’s church leader spoke about how PRODAD was helping him, and others in the community, lift themselves out of poverty.

‘I began to investigate what was the reason for a Christian ministry,’ shares Pastor Freddy.

‘With this project, I learned for the first time the term integral mission. It was very innovative because it was not only [giving] attention to the spiritual, the preaching was complementary with the demonstration of love for our neighbour and God's creation.’

And through this revelation, Pastor Freddy was inspired to help his church put this teaching into action.

‘I understood that the church should be there, where the need is strongest.’
Pastor Freddy, Lluvias de Gracia church, Nicaragua

An opportunity to serve

‘In the year 2011 our community suffered a flood, and that was the opportunity to serve the community and especially the families who were in great need,’ explains Pastor Freddy.

‘Our church was opened to the community not only for worship, but also as a safe haven for those whose houses were flooded. We also provided food aid, house remodelling and toilets for the affected families.

‘I understood that the church should be there, where the need is strongest.’

A safe shelter

After this, Pastor Freddy joined the board of directors at PRODAD, alongside his role at the church.

‘It was a valuable opportunity to grow,’ shares Pastor Freddy. ‘I began a more intensive training process on issues of integral mission, risk management, and without a doubt a topic that marked me ministerially, was the local church and disasters. I became a facilitator of this topic and I have had the opportunity to share in workshops with pastors and churches.

‘One of the lessons learned has been that, by opening the doors of our church for community service, it has allowed us to strengthen the testimony of the church and we have grown as a congregation.

‘Our church is available for community service , ready to be used as a safe shelter in time of need. It is a place to meet with community leaders, strategic planning and trainings.’

The church leaps into action

‘In November 2020, the community was impacted by hurricanes Iota and Eta,’ shares Pastor Freddy. ‘Which in their wake left crops destroyed and psychological effects on families in the community as they lost all their power supply.’

‘Faced with [this]... we met with the community leaders in the church, and we carried out an assessment of damages and needs through visits to homes and plots of crops.

‘Then we proceeded to contact PRODAD, to carry out joint efforts to respond and, as a result, we helped 65 families with cleaning and biosafety kits, filters to purify water, cash, food packages, all of which were stored and distributed on the church property.’

‘I am aware that I am a pastor of the community, and our church has assumed as an incarnational commitment to serve our community.’

And it’s help that continues to this day.

Pastor Freddy works with Tearfund’s local partner, PRODAD, to distribute essentials supplies to his community. | Image credit:  PRODAD/Tearfund

Taking over

‘We have coordinated the visit of health services that in our church serve impoverished families of the community and other surrounding communities,’ says Pastor Freddy.

‘We are carrying out community clean-up and reforestation campaigns that were previously directed by PRODAD. They are now carried out by the church in association with community leaders, schools and the health ministry.

‘[We’re] training on issues of violence prevention, addictions counselling and support for families who have lost a loved one in the Covid-19 pandemic.’

‘It has been amazing to see how Pastor Freddy has faithfully followed God’s call and the difference that has made to an entire community,’ shares Alexis Pacheco, who leads Tearfund’s work in Nicaragua.

‘We know God works through the local church to help those who are marginalised and to bring justice. It is why at Tearfund we partner with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries.

‘The church is changing lives around the world and it is great to be a part of helping them to be able to do this.’

Pray with us

‘My request is that the church of the Lord may grow in vision, understanding and live integral mission as a visible commitment,’ shares Pastor Freddy.

  1. Invite the Holy Spirit’s presence to be with you.
  2. Praise God for the ways that the local church in Nicaragua are helping their local community overcome poverty and help them when disasters hit.
  3. Read through Pastor Freddy’s prayer request again and pray it over your local church. Ask God to highlight ways in which your church can serve your local community. Continue to pray to God about this as you feel led.
  4. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight a country to you in which you can then pray Pastor Freddy’s prayer request over the local church there. Let the Holy Spirit continue to guide you in how you can pray for the local church there.
  5. End by thanking God for working through you and in you.

  Rachael Adams


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